ONE: Finding Unity in a Divided World - Week 2 Discussion Guide

CoreGroup Guide | ONE: Finding Unity in a Divided World - Week 2
Guide written by Chris Burford and Dan Hutti


Now this is a true story.  In 1936, there was a man named Edward who fell in love with a woman who had been divorced twice.  There was a policy in place at Edward's job that forbade them from marrying.  So, Edward weighed the pros and cons of that job and decided to part ways in order to pursue his love.  On the surface, this could be just a story of a rebellious man who recklessly made an odd choice.  However, the Edward in this story was Edward VIII, King of the United Kingdom and all of its Dominions, etc. etc. and the woman was Wallis Simpson of Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.  

It may seem odd to start our conversation with that piece of history when we should be talking about unity.  But, it is clear that Edward chose to abdicate his throne in order to focus on his unity with Wallis.  Putting that into the framework of unity that was talked about last week, we could say that: 1) Edward chose not to hold the same beliefs as other royals, 2) Edward chose not to act in the same way at that time as previous royals, and 3) Edward chose to place some personal boundaries that allowed him to maintain relationships and pursue experiences outside of his culture.

Ice Breaker

What are your most unique, positive experiences with other cultures?  Maybe it was a conversation you had or a unique food you tried.  Maybe you explored a large city with lots of diversity.  Please discuss.

Our conversation this week is focused on honoring differences, which may sound difficult in this divided world.  This may invoke images of certain people or groups of people who you strongly disagree with.  You may have a visceral reaction to even thinking of honoring them.  But the people may be family members or coworkers who are unavoidable all the time. How do we honor those differences?  In short, we need to have different ways of thinking about our interactions.  We need to focus our minds on gentleness.  We need to have resources to draw from such as guidance provided in the Bible.  

One phrase to keep in your mind as we discuss the topic of honoring differences: Love is everything.  Let's pray.

Opening Prayer

Lord, thank you for the diversity of this world.  Thank you for giving us our individuality and for giving opportunities to interact with each other.  Please bless the conversations of this group today.  Help us to speak gently.  Provide us with insight.  Speak to us through the Bible.  It is in your Name we pray, Amen.

The Head

The reading this week is taken from the New Testament Book of Romans.  Most scholars agree that the author of Romans was Paul and that it was written to explain and describe the salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ.  In the section we are about to read, Paul is describing what Biblical love is and the way believers should be practicing this type of love.

Romans 12:9-18
9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12 Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16 Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17 Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.
18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.

  • In verse 9, it is written that we should show love without pretending. Why is that important?
  • Verse 10 says, "be the best at showing honor to each other." In the Bible, this kind of honor means to respect someone; or to show reverence to somebody;  to show them they are important.  What would this kind of honor be in today's culture?  
  • How might we show honor to someone we may disagree with?
  • Verse 14 says we should "bless people who harass you - bless, and don't curse them."  In this short verse, Paul says "bless" twice in order to stress the importance.  This might be an unnatural reaction.  How might we remember to bless instead of curse?
  • Verse 16 is a lesson on humility.  It advises us to think of each other as equals and to stay humble.  What does it mean now to associate with people with no status?  
  • How might this be honoring differences?
  • What other verses in the reading this week resonate with you?

The Heart

  • Why are differences hard to honor?
  • If we look at differences through the biblical lens of love, we find patience, kindness, peace, and calmness as some of the attributes.  Which of these attributes is the most challenging for you, and why?
  • What are some ways we can practice this kind of love with people who have different outlooks?

As we consider what it means to honor differences with each other,  we may struggle.  It may be a difficult notion.  But, it may be good to consider the words of Jesus when He was asked by people who he had differences with to identify the greatest rule to follow, Jesus said:  "You should love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your being, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength.  The second is this, "You will love your neighbor as yourself." [Mark 12:28-31] Now for Jesus, a neighbor was anyone you come in contact with.
  • Considering the love attributes in the question above, how do those words impact the statement Jesus made?

The Hands

This would be a great week to practice Biblical love skills specifically with honoring differences.  Try to authentically practice patience, kindness, peace, and calmness when interacting with people.  Take note of how they respond.  See if any aspect of the differences change.  

  • Do you have a person in mind?
  • What would be difficult about practicing patience, kindness, peace, and calmness with them?
  • How do you think they may respond?
  • The Bible says we should stay steadfast with this posture as believers.  Can you do it?  Remember, love is everything.

Closing Prayer

Hey God, thank you for love.  Thank you for loving us and for showing us  good examples of how we should love our neighbors.  Please forgive when we fall short and guide us on righteous paths.  It is in your name we pray.  Amen


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